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I am on Islay this week and got to try Bowmore's Devil's Cask II release. This was another 10-year old small batch release, launched in 2014, that was exclusively matured in first fill sherry casks, quite unusual for Bowmore. The first release was launched in 2013, the third one is due this week. According to the story behind these releases the devil visited Islay but got chased away by an angry mob. To escape, the devil hid in a cask of Bowmore whisky ready to be shipped to the mainland.
The nose is slightly rubbery and lush, with notes of prunes, some liquorice, and soft smoke in the background. With water flavours of fudge and caramel come to the fore, followed by notes of coffee and chocolate.
The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. Without water this is quite a 'closed' affair, not revealing much more than the ubiquitous prune flavours. With water there are raisins and chocolate, tarry peat smoke hovering in the background.
The finish is long and warming. The prune and smoke flavours are back and last to the very end.
This dram was challenging to deconstruct, and it took some water as well as time to let it breathe before I could get at the underlying flavours. Overall this is very well balanced, with the sherry and smoky flavours perfectly integrated. Certainly one of the better expressions of Bowmore that I had the opportunity to taste.